Alexander the Great is a fascinating, legendary, almost mythical figure in the history of the world. Below is a quick history lesson about the man most famous for his military exploits.
(1) Alexander was born on 21st July 356 BC in Pella, son to King Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, princess of Epirus.
(2) Alexander's name suited him. It means Man's Defender, Warrior.
(3) Alexander was instructed in politics, war, and in critical thinking by Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher.
(4) Although his name is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, many biblical scholars believe that he is the "mighty king" referred to in the book of Daniel the Prophet (Chapter 11).
(5a) At age 16, he became a captain in the Macedonian armies
(5b) At age 20 (336 BC), Alexander became the king of Macedonia.
(5c) At age 33, he died in Babylon mysteriously.
(6) Bucephalos was the war horse of Alexander the Great and is very likely the most famous horse of antiquity. The name means "ox head"; apparently his horse had a funny-shaped head. Alexander treasured him so much that he built the city of Bucephala in his memory.
(7) Alexander the Great wanted to rule the world (as did so many of his predecessors). Alexander envisioned an empire united under one culture, the Hellenistic culture, which would connect the divided and diverse worlds of the East and West and would merge the best features of both the Greek and the Persian societies - their backgrounds, traditions, customs, way of life, etc.
(8) Alexander believed and proclaimed himself to be a god-king. He was not the son of Philip but was the son of Zeus-Ammon and insisted on being honored as part-man/part-god. Yet he said these words: "Sex and sleep alone make me conscious that I am mortal."
(9) Alexander crushed Greek rebellions and conquered most of Asia Minor, on his way to Syria and Egypt. Following those conquests he set out for Mesopotamia and Persia. When all of those areas had been conquered he pushed on and overran the Punjab, determined to conquer all the lands with the aim of dominating India. He engaged in a violent battle, at the river Hydaspes in July 326 BC, against the forces of Porus, an Indian leader. The Indians were defeated. After this battle, according to one historical account, Alexander's army “refused to go any farther east. Alexander was extremely disappointed, but he accepted their decision …"
(10) After Alexander the Great's army turned back, he withdrew to Babylon where one night he fell ill. He suffered horribly for about eleven days and then on the 10th of June, 332 BC, he breathed his last breath. Some sources say he died of malaria or a fever, while others state that the cause of his illness was "unknown" (probably hinting he could have been poisoned, as the use of poison was not uncommon in ancient times.). As a mortal, Alexander the Great died leaving no designated successor. Three mortal generals divided his empire into three kingdoms. Antigonus I took Macedonia and Greece; Ptolemy I ruled over the kingdom of Egypt; and Anatolia, Seleucus I ruled Syria and Parthia along with the rest of Alexander's empire in Asia.
In an article about world history, socialstudiesforkids.com provided a succinct summary of Alexander the Great's legacy:
"This, then, was the legacy of Alexander the Great: to bring the West and the East together in a brotherhood of mankind, peoples of many descents making up one people, speaking a common language, trading a multitude of goods with a common currency as a means of exchange, sharing knowledge of math, science, and medicine--enjoying the world view of a young man from Macedon who didn't live to see his dream come true."
In his own words, this is what the great military genius said of himself:
“A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.”
In my own words and this is just an observation. I'm not a qualified historian.
Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) lived for a short time on this earth and during that time he established cities in Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Some cities still exist today. Even though he never realized his dream of connecting divided and diverse worlds, centuries later to this day humanity has benefitted from his many accomplishments. He conquered most of the known world during his lifetime, yet he did not or could not protect his own family. He died leaving behind a wife and a young son who perished shortly after his death, at the hands of violent men. People may call this man “great”. But when your contemporaries slaughter your wife and child because you're not there, it proves they had little or no respect for you. They were just waiting for you to leave so they could divide the spoils of your victories! In today's world, we refer to this man as “the Great”. Clearly, those who lived during his time made no effort to honor his “greatness”.
(Image credits: Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons.)
Thanks for reading.
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